I call these two children’s books deceitful, because they are. When we received the books, I Love My Mommy and I Love My Daddy by Igloo Books as a (well meaning) gift from my parents for Christmas I was naturally thrilled. Oh, a book about how awesome my husband and I are that we get to read to our daughter? Heck yes! Obviously there’s something totally narcissistic about being excited about a book like that, but I was. We were deceived by the covers and the presumed topic of the books – and when I actually sat down and read the books before reading them to my daughter (note: this was really really good idea. So happy I didn’t read them with her first) I was shocked and horrified that they were in our home. I want to make you aware of these two books so that you are not fooled by them and mistakenly add them to your bookshelf if you share a key value with our family: modern parenting roles.
How We Value Modern Parenting Roles
Long before my husband and I had our sweet daughter, we talked about what it’d be like to have children. What would our “roles” be? It was like one of those movies where you say 3…2…1 and both say the same phrase “EQUAL PARENTS”. We have always been equals – we both work, we both have dreams, we both are driven and passionate, we both want children and we both want to raise them.
Of course, this style of marriage and parenting is at odds with traditional gender roles. Traditional gender roles as I define them consist of: the mother staying home and handling the children-rearing / home tasks while the father goes out and works, is the bread winner and the provider of the family.
In our version of modern parenting roles and equal parenting, we are both responsible for the home tasks (my husband is an excellent cook and he loves doing laundry – seriously, don’t even get him started about which fabric softener is the best because he is really opinionated about that). I love having a job and working inside and outside of the home. I enjoy playing with my daughter, spending quality time that doesn’t strictly involve care-taking and I love my fair share of cuddles, too.
Now, for many families, a traditional marriage / traditional gender roles dynamic works for them. I love that. I appreciate when you find something that works for your family and you make that happen. In fact, I think that more people should do what they feel is right in terms of parenting and stop staying in one box or the other because you feel like you’re “supposed to”. If you are a woman who wants to stay home with the children and be an amazing homemaker, I think you absolutely should. I think you will be amazing at it and you will feel so happy that you chose where you thrive.
I want to emphasize this point: No one should feel like they need to be or do what the “world” thinks they should.
That’s why these books rubbed me the wrong way so much. I know that no single book can encompass all perspectives, but the titles I Love My Mommy and I Love My Daddy felt so universal. Unfortunately, when I read the books, I was so disappointed that they’d chosen a side. Sure, they’d chosen the side of traditional gender roles but…
I was more disappointed because I felt it did a disservice to every side.
A Summary Of The Books
I’d like to talk about the exact books and their contents before I explain why I felt they did such a disservice to parents as a whole (and specifically to parents who value modern parenting roles). What’s interesting about these two books is they really go together, they’re both by the same publisher and follow a very similar story / book structure. They’re also titled nearly the same and have similar cover imagery.
Because they go together, naturally, it made sense for me to read them together.
First, I read I Love My Daddy. I loved it! I’m sure I have you thoroughly confused you now since this whole blog post is about how much I dislike these books, but follow with me for a second. This book is all about how daddy is awesome! He plays with his kid, he has fun with him, they play outside and daddy is just the best.
I love you, Daddy, because you push me on my shiny, new bicycle.
I love you, Daddy, because you are the best pirate captain, ever.
And so on. Sounds pretty great, right? To me, Dad sounds cool – no wonder we love him.
Ah, but then I read I Love My Mommy and my oh my, how quickly my face went from elated to irate. Even as I type this there’s an anger rising within me. Now remember, we love Daddy because he plays with us and takes us outside. Why do we love mommy?
I love you, Mommy, because you make my rubber duck go, “quack!” in the bath.
I love you, Mommy, because you wash my teddy when I’ve got him all muddy.
You have got to be kidding me. Please tell me I did not just read through an entire children’s book about how mommy does only cleaning, cooking, and childrearing. Lord help me, I did. So Dad does all the fun things and Mom takes care of the kid and the house? Oh no, oh no hunny this book has got to go.
How This Book Failed Parents
I want to talk about these books through a few different lenses (because really, everyone has the right to be upset by these books): as a practicer of modern parenting roles and equal parenting, as a mother and as a father.
In terms of Modern Parenting Roles
Clearly, this book contradicts everything my family believes in when it comes to mom and dad’s “place” or “role” in the household. I do so much more than cook and clean and take care of my daughter.
The last thing on earth I want her to think of me, and to think of women as a whole is that is what we are meant to do. That a well kept home is the reason we are worthy of love from not only a child but from any human. That our sole purpose is to cater to others.
When read together, there is clearly a lack of congruency and equality between the two parents. This doesn’t even make sense for us to have in our intentional bookshelf or to read to our daughter because it is so not reflective of how our family works. In this way, it really sends a mixed message and some unrealistic expectation about what mommy and daddy do for the family.
As a Mother
I felt personally insulted by this book. I felt like the author reduced my self-worth and the meaning of my life as a mother to doing the dishes and making good meals.
Mothers, regardless of their opinions about traditional or modern marriages do so much more than that.
How about all the books I read to my daughter? How about the times we play outside and explore where we live together? How about the time we laid out in the hot sun and played with chalk or the water table for hours? How about when I took her to a Chinese Garden in Japan and walked around with her and showed her the fish in the lake? How about all the times I have put her on my lap and taught her about coding as I finished up my work?
Sure, a book cannot encapsulate the full efforts of a mother. I get that. But moms are so much more. We are emotional sanctuaries to our children. We kiss boo-boos and wipe snotty noses. We pretend to be tigers and growl at our children from across the hallway. We think every day about our children’s futures and our own, too.
We have other hobbies and interests aside from our children. We love to do yoga and spend time with our friends, or binge watch the Real Housewives. We write, we dance, we sing. We are so much more than this book says we are. We have so many more amazing reasons to be loved as moms.
As a Father
Clearly, a father, I am not. However, when I sat down with my husband to tell him about these books and how much they bothered me that they were in our home, he had a lot to say about how the books made him feel and we discussed it.
Fathers, regardless of their opinions about traditional or modern marriages do so much more than this book.
Like I said before, my particular family is very much in the equal parenting realm. My husband does so much for our family, so much more than provide for us financially. My husband is an amazing cook, he loves learning new recipes and creating his own. As previously mentioned, he is a laundry superhero. My linens smell so good because he makes it so! He is also emotionally available for Addison and myself in ways I never thought imaginable (thanks, TV and other media for making me think husbands and men in general have no feelings and should keep it that way).
He loves to kiss her booboos too and read her good night stories, give her baths and snuggles. He is an amazing father and I know plenty of other dads who do the same, too. Dads do a lot more than just be the “fun guy”, they really are contributing members to the household and to the ecosystem of the family as a whole. When you read these books together, they really seem to imply that mom takes care of all the hard stuff around the home while dad is off playing hide and go seek and having a grand old time. Dads should get so much more credit than they do already and this book simply serves to minimize their efforts.
Something I’d Like to Note about Igloo Books
I have to say, I was really shocked to discover these books were published by Igloo Books. This company published some of our favorite books in our library, one of which is Cheeky Monkey. That book been a huge hit here in our home and really solidifies an amazing value (honesty).
As I researched for this post, I found that these two books, I Love My Mommy and I Love My Daddy are really difficult to find, cannot be purchased on Amazon through prime and are overall not huge hits in the children’s book world. In a small way, that makes me happy. That makes me believe that maybe Igloo Books rethought their decision to publish such a minimalistic, disheartening series.
Books That are Positive for Parents & Modern Parenting Roles
Parenting is equally the most difficult and most amazing thing I have done. Being a mother has come with such challenges as I grapple with my self-worth and my place as a mother. Books that lift parents up, show children what a tough but incredible job it is to be a parent, those are the types of books I want my daughter to read. I also want to show her that as a woman, she has just as much of a right to do and be whatever she wants to be. That even as a mom she can have dreams and aspiration and passions outside of her children. These books are positive for parents and really emphasize modern gender roles, female empowerment and gender equality:
- Someday by Alison McGhee – every mother’s dream is for her child to his or her life to her fullest. The love of a mother for her child and all the things they will be someday.
- A Suitcase Surprise for Mommy by Cat Cora – a working mom has to go on a business trip and her son wants to come along!
- Mommy’s High Heel Shoes by Kristie Finnan – another great book showing moms can work too and be successful, aspirational and inspirational to their children.
- Daddy’s Hugs by Karen Katz – This book shows the emotional and paternal side of fatherhood
- Daddy’s Lullaby by Tony Bradman – Dad comes home from work and everyone is asleep except for his baby. Instead of waking mommy, he handles the situation and plays a perfect loving role.
- Be a Star Wonder Woman by Michael Dahl – Follow a young girl as she triumphs in school, just like wonder woman. She can be and do anything she wants to be.
- Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty – Never say never, this girl is an engineer!
I have to admit, these books were not super easy to find. I would love to see more children’s books in the future that showcase a home where more than one parent works or does the homemaking. I dream of a library filled of books for my daughter that shows her she can be anything she wants to be – and that she has so many reasons to love mommy and daddy, beyond the conventional.
Don’t Get Fooled by a Bad Children’s Book
Seriously, it happened to me here and I was so disappointed I had let it stay in our bookshelf all that time. If you don’t know how to identify what a “bad children’s book” looks like for you – check out this post. I go through all the ways to know and also to figure out what to do with a bad book once you identify it. Also, grab my free cheatsheet to help you decide if you have a bad book, 7 questions to ask yourself to know for sure.
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